Lyons successfully played an ugly game against the Hillsboro High School girls’ basketball team Friday in Lyons, a 57-46 Hillsboro victory.
“It was the kind of game they were hoping for,” Hillsboro head coach Nathan Hiebert said.
Although the Trojans had a 10-point advantage at halftime, 27-17, both teams had 10 fouls with 3 minutes, 25 seconds left to play in the second quarter.
The Lions used foul trouble to their advantage in the second half. Tena Loewen had guarded 6-foot-3 sophomore center Alexis Lasater in the second quarter. Loewen used her superior jumping ability to front the taller player and deny Lasater the ball. Loewen played the entire second half with three fouls. Erin Winter was the Trojans second best defensive option against the lanky center and she ended the game with four fouls, picking up the final penalty trying to check Lasater in the fourth quarter.
Lasater was held off the stat sheet in the first half. With the Trojans playing cautiously, she scored 8 points in the second half, including 6 in the third quarter to help Lyons make its run. She had 3 rebounds in the contest and 3 blocks.
“We’d try to front and she’d walk right under the basket,” Hiebert said.
Lyons’ best player on the night was sophomore point guard Brenna McClure. Her wild drives through the paint helped pick up foul calls throughout the game. While she scored 9 of her 13 points in the first half, she created havoc in the second half freeing up shots for Rachel Minx, who scored 11 of her 13 points in the latter half, when Danae Bina was playing with three fouls in the third quarter and four fouls in the fourth.
Add the increase in scoring with 5 steals and a better rebounding effort, the Trojans had 5 offensive boards in the first half and 3 in the second, and a 10-point lead was whittled to a 4-point advantage, 48-44 with 4:18 left in the game.
The grinding pace of the game also affected Hillsboro’s offense. The Trojans were able to get into the lane and score on multiple fast breaks in the first two quarters. As the game grinded to glacial half court sets, the Trojans’ no longer got into the lane and struggled to hit jump shots.
A less experienced team may have lost to Lyons, but the Trojans did not panic, did not abandon their game plan. Maddi Duerksen and Christina Morris both knocked down midrange jump shots in the third quarter that Hiebert described as in rhythm. Both shots came as the result of drivers drawing multiple defenders.
“We showed great patience,” Hiebert said.
The same relaxed shot was evident later in the game. Addie Lackey hit a corner 3-pointer. After a Loewen steal, Lackey pushed the ball on the fast break. At the free-throw line, she drew two defenders and then threaded an underhanded pass between the Lyons players to Maci Schlehuber waiting on the left block who converted. With the help of two free throws from Winter and a single free throw from Danae Bina, the Trojans had a 54-47 lead with 1:43 left to play.
Loewen was the leading scorer for Hillsboro with 20 points, she converted three separate and-1 opportunities in the contest. She also led the team in rebounds with 6. Bina was the team’s third high scorer with 11 points, 7 from the free throw line. However, Lackey made plays when the Trojans needed points.
Lackey had a similar sequence to start the third quarter. She knocked down a 3-pointer. She then got a steal on the other end, started a fast break and recorded an assist on a layup to Morris. It gave Hillsboro a 35-21 lead, and the Trojans looked to be pulling away.
Lackey was the only Hillsboro player to hit a 3-pointer in the game.
“I was relaxed, I wasn’t trying to force things,” Lackey said.
It wasn’t as if Hiebert asked Lackey to step up and deliver with the game hanging in the balance. It was as if the Trojans offense was programmed to allow Lackey to create opportunities late in games.
Even though the Trojans navigated through the minefield of a trap game Friday, Hillsboro should be primed for more ugly games in the future. Teams will look to copy Lyons style with a tightly packed 2-3 zone, hustling back to prevent fast breaks, and scrappy play on both ends of the floor.
“I hate when teams play zone,” Lackey confided.
Unfortunately for the Trojans, most teams will not want to match up man-to-man with the No. 1 3A team in the state.